There is a new approach from a start-up in Belgium that allows anyone to become an urban farmer.
Peas&Love rents out spaces on rooftops and in unused urban spaces in Paris and Brussels. But this is not your typical community garden – here is the difference – the company does all the gardening but members get to harvest the fresh produce. And it gets even easier - an app alerts them when crops are ready to pick.
Peas&Love is the brainchild of Jean-Patrick Scheepers, co-founder of Belgium’s biggest cooking school. After the failure of a sustainable farming project near Brussels, he moved into the city itself and started farming on rooftops and in gardens.
“For 20 years, I tried to grow fruit and vegetables in my garden or on my terrace and each year I failed,” he declared at the Change Now summit in 2017, the same year he launched Peas&Love. He went on to say that “My idea was that, if I could have my own personal source of vegetables and fruits that are local, that are seasonal, that are good, that are full of quality, that would exactly fit the description of a potager in French, or a kitchen garden in English, and that would be great.”
Peas&Love uses vertical growing techniques and now has three urban farms in Brussels and five in Paris where anyone can rent space for about $40 a month.
All of the farming work is taken care of by the company, and members are alerted by an app when it’s time to harvest the produce. Each 157 square inch vegetable garden is divided into two halves: one for the sole use of the subscriber and the other to grow crops that will be shared by all members.
“The motivation of the people who are part of the concept is mainly to renew contact with nature but they don't have the time or the knowledge,” Scheepers says. “You come every week to harvest your own allotment but you don't have to do the work to get it.” It’s all about creating a community of people who help each other and share values as well as food, he says. It’s a “new approach in urban farming” which has 200 active urban farmers at its first location in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, in Brussels.